Thankful trotting

When my parents first informed me that my post-Thanksgiving food coma would have to be interrupted with a 5K run this past Saturday, I groaned and moaned.

I was not at all prepared to suspend my sluggish relaxation period of Thanksgiving break. So let’s just say I was not the most cheerful of people when I awoke early Saturday morning, dressed in an outfit that gave the impression that I was exploring the Arctic Circle and headed to Arch Street for the start of the race.

Fortunately, in the back of my mind, I knew that my “sacrifice” was for the benefit of my community. This powered me to ignore all complaints and join my fellow Greenwich residents in a friendly run through Bruce Park to raise money for the Greenwich Alliance for Education.

The entrance of the Arch Street Teen Center was packed with families of all ages who, despite the chilling 30-degree air, were excited and ready to run the 2013 Turkey Trot, an annual event to benefit the Alliance, which seeks to enhance learning in Greenwich through private fund raising. After pinning my number to my chest and lining up at the start, I felt a pang of adrenaline as I began the jog in the wintry blast of the November chill alongside 900 other Greenwich residents.

This year, participants and donors of the Turkey Trot raised approximately $25,000. These donations will go toward supporting Greenwich programs, including the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, Going Places with Books, Tuning into Music and Bridging the Digital Divide. AVID is a notable program which gives academic assistance to students with financial burdens and familial issues. Last year, the nonprofit organization helped 16 Greenwich High School seniors graduate and pursue a college education.

This was my second year racing in the Turkey Trot, yet I felt a stronger connection to the cause this year as I jogged alongside people of all ages. I also came to fully realize the uniqueness of Greenwich.

When people think of Greenwich, many think of fancy cars, big houses and preppy residents strolling along Greenwich Avenue. However, the Turkey Trot shows all evidence that Greenwich is more than a luxurious suburb of hedge-fund families and Wall Street lawyers. Greenwich is like any small American town. We respect and support our community and we represent people of all ages, backgrounds and families.

And, despite my initial complaints, I believe the Turkey Trot fell on the perfect day this year. I was still in the Thanksgiving spirit. I was still bloated from the 10,000-calorie meal, still tired from tryptophan and still feeling thankful.

In between panting breaths as I jogged through Bruce Park, I reminisced about why I was feeling this way. I thought about my Thanksgiving dinner table, surrounded by my aunt, uncle, grandmother, cousins, parents and brother. I smiled as I thought about how grateful I am for being blessed with an amazing family and loving friends.

I also realized how thankful I am for the Greenwich community. I looked around me and saw a small eight-year-old boy running at a rapid pace, his stride interrupted only when anonymous onlookers slowed their car to cheer and wave.

This gesture showed me how we, the residents of this small Connecticut town, function as a family. No, I did not know anyone who I was running alongside. No, we were not in a competition to beat each other. It was a simple effort displaying the support that we citizens of Greenwich share with one another.

So, although my finish time was nothing to brag about, I was cheered on and greeted by fellow Turkey Trotters as I breathlessly crossed the finish line. I smiled at the supporters, the racers and my own family. It didn’t matter who came in first, second or third. What mattered is that we all came and celebrated each other, and all 900 of us came together as a family.

We ran the trot not for glory, not for success, and not for a victory. We ran it to show our thanks for the community.

OK, maybe we also ran it to burn off some of the pumpkin pie haunting our waistlines, too.

 

Sarah Jackmauh is a junior at Convent of the Sacred Heart.

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